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From the Apprentice: Don't Get Caught in the Competition's Web of Deceit

31 May, 2005 By: Nick Warnock imageSource

From the Apprentice: Don't Get Caught in the Competition's Web of Deceit

Over the past year I have
written extensively on the many merits of the selling profession. This month,
however, I would like to switch my focus to dealing with some of the negatives
one can run into in this business.

I recognize that I am fairly young and there is always more to learn about being
a professional salesman and just about business in general. To that end, the
realities of just how hard this business can be have become very clear to me in
this past year.

Prior to appearing on “The Apprentice,” the process was fairly simple: find a
prospect, satisfy their requirements, negotiate, close, get the check, and spend
the check. These expectations were set between my employer and I, and they were
always honored on both ends. In the past year, I have seen that this,
unfortunately, is not always the case. Sometimes, shockingly, you can run into
less than honest people in this business, and you must be prepared to handle it.

I specifically want to talk about the idea of your fellow salespeople setting
unrealistic expectations with a customer during a sales cycle. Often times, your
prospects will relay outrageous statements that the competition has given them
as fact. For example, “They said their service will be out here within an hour”
or “our machine can feed 140lb index through it.”

You all know that this is just not possible. But perhaps the opposing rep is
altering the perception of the buyer knowing that he or she will tell the other
competition, forcing you into a sticky situation. I have seen this trick used
numerous times by opposing reps and the worst thing you can do in this situation
is to try and top the competitor. When customers start in with this type of
nonsense it is important to level with them and make sure that they understand
the policy of your organization.

Here is how I would handle the situation: “Mr. or Mrs. (fill in the blank), let
me take a step back and clarify exactly what will happen when a service call is
placed because I believe it is important that you understand the process. I do
not want there to be any miscommunication when a service is requested. The
service rep will call you within the hour and tell you what time he can arrive.
Our commitment to you is that he will arrive within four hours of placing the
call. What separates me from the competition is that I would ask that you call
me as well so that I can use the relationships that I have forged over the years
to push the call through faster, which will get you service sooner.”

The beauty of this is that you are keeping the window in which you guarantee
service fairly large and, additionally, you are explaining the process
specifically. This adds to your credibility and the personal touch of your
commitment to customer service comes in when you offer to share in the plight
and get service out as soon as possible.

The objection regarding the 140lb index must be handled in a slightly different
manner because this involves a specific feature. Either the unit can perform the
function or not, and there really is no tap dancing around the issue. In this
case, you must also be up front with a customer by specifically showing them the
specs on the brochure. You may also want to ask them if the competition making
those claims showed them the pamphlet.

Another great move when a feature comes into question is to bring them in for a
personal demo of the unit. This will help prove to them that the unit is capable
of doing what you say, and it will help build a better relationship with the
customer. An added bonus to this is the chance to show them some scanning and
software offerings, which can increase gross revenue.

In this business, it is easy to get caught up in a pissing contest with a fellow salesman, but you need to remember that it will never work in your favor.
Even if the customer decides to award you the business, you will inevitably be
unable to live up to your promises and this will damage your credibility.
Remember, if you are honest and forthcoming about what you and your product can
deliver, you can’t go wrong. A level of trust will be built and this will ensure
you business as well as the client’s referrals for years to come.

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